Who would the Republic of Ireland prefer to face in the play-offs?

The Republic of Ireland have to navigate a two-leg play-off to earn a spot at Euro 2016 and they will eagerly be awaiting Sunday's draw to discover their opponent.

There were nine qualifying groups and each team who finished third in their respective group will enter the play-off round, with Turkey gaining automatic qualification as the highest ranked third placed side.

As such the Irish join Bosnia, Norway, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary and Slovenia in the play-offs but the draw will be seeded, with the four seeded teams to be drawn against one of the unseeded quartet.

European governing body UEFA are yet to confirm the seedings but reports in Ireland suggest Martin O'Neill's men will be one of the unseeded sides and could face either Sweden, Ukraine, Hungary or Bosnia - so which of these sides would provide the most likely route to Euro 2016?


On paper Hungary are probably the nation Ireland would most hope to be drawn against.  The Hungarians are ranked 33rd in the world by FIFA but give yourself a round of applause if you can think of any Hungary international other than Liverpool back-up keeper Adam Bogdan

Hungary finished below Northern Ireland in qualifying and their results in 2015 have been far from impressive to date. They have failed to beat a Greece side in crisis twice and have just two home wins in four attempts, a 4-0 victory over Lithuania in a friendly and a 2-1 success over minnows the Faroe Islands, and as such they are the side O'Neill will want to be paired with even if declines to admit it publicly.


Ukraine is always a tough place to visit, as any Champions League side who has ever had to travel to Shakhtar Donetsk or Dynamo Kiev will confirm, but O'Neill and his players should be reasonably confident if drawn against the side currently ranked 24th by FIFA. 

Gone are the days of Andriy Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov and in their place is a workmanlike outfit devoid of any real star men. 

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is now a 36-year-old veteran playing in Kazakhstan, Sevilla's Yevhen Konoplyanka was the only player in the squad for the recent clash with Spain who plays in one of Europe's elite leagues, while Dynamo Kiev's Andriy Yarmolenko is also a talented winger but aside from that Mykhaylo Fomenko's men look like a very beatable team.

Ukraine do have a formidable home record in 2015 with just one defeat, which came at the hands of Spain, but considering Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg and Latvia (who grabbed a draw) have been the visitors that is a far from inspiring record


Bosnia are one of two teams Ireland will probably want to avoid, the other being Sweden, as they do have a star man in the shape of Roma's Edin Dzeko

The striker may not have found top form since switching Manchester City for Serie A but he has an impressive scoring record and there are plenty of big name players for coach Mehmed Baždarevi; to call upon, including Roma's Miralem Pjanic, Lazio's Senad Lulic and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic of Chelsea.

Bosnia, ranked 30th by FIFA, reached the group stages of the 2014 World Cup and will be eager to secure qualification to a second successive major tournament. The ROI may still fancy their chances if drawn against Bosnia but it would be a tough draw regardless.


Saving the best, or worst from an Irish perspective, until last; the Swedes are the team to avoid in the draw. 

With a world ranking of 45 they're actually the lowest placed of the seeded sides but perhaps that says more about FIFA's ranking system than anything else.  

In Zlatan Ibrahimovic they have a striker who can win a game on his own and who loves the big occasion, Bosnia may have a few stars but none of them shine as brightly as the mercurial PSG forward and he will be desperate to help his side qualify for what could be his final major tournament.

The evergreen Kim Kallstrom, a 123-cap veteran, is still a handful in midfield and in defence they have a strong core with Celtic's Mikael Lustig a reassuring presence at the back.

Sweden have won four of their six competitive fixtures in 2015 and their defeats have come in Russia, which is never an easy place to visit, and at home to Austria, who breezed through qualifying.

If Ireland are drawn against Hungary or Ukraine they should be reasonably confident, but double headers against either Bosnia or Sweden may set the nerves jangling before the play-offs next month.

Bet 10 Get 30 with Betfair Plus Money Back if you Lose